An important survey was conducted by the ISO Technical Committee (ISO/TC 207/SC 1) responsible for ISO 14001 and ISO 14004, which will help to inform the revision of the two International Standards and gives an insight into the priorities from the marketplace. The survey canvassed the opinions in 11 languages from nearly 5000 participants in 110 countries worldwide.
The survey questionnaire included questions related to the perceived value of the ISO 14001 standard for both business management and environmental management, and the extent to which ISO 14001 should address or strengthen attention to future challenges for environmental management systems. All participants were asked to indicate the extent to which ISO 14001 and ISO 14004 should strengthen attention to 19 environmental management concepts identified in the ISO/TC 207/SC 1 Future Challenges Report, which I contributed to as part of the Study Group.
In relation to the “Future Challenges”, the survey’s analysis indicates that there is a strong body of support for the prevention of pollution requirements and a level of support for the concepts of eco-efficiency: Implementing strategies for efficient use of resources, and for reducing waste and pollution, and life cycle thinking: identifying and evaluating environmental aspects related to the life cycle of products and services. Other concepts, such as value chain, transparency, accountability and stakeholder identification had a limited to moderate level of support.
In terms of the value derived from an ISO 14001 management system, nearly 75% of participants indicated ‘high’ or ‘very high’ value for meeting legal requirements and improving the organization’s environmental performance, while more than 60% indicated ‘high’ to ‘very high value’ for management commitment and employee engagement. Overall, 85% or more indicated at least a moderate value in all categories except improvement in supplier environmental performance. 63% of user responses indicated at least moderate value in this area.
The survey responses suggest that ISO 14001 has provided considerable value for business management, most notably for meeting stakeholder requirements, improving public image, achieving strategic objectives, and integrating with business management systems. Furthermore, 78% and 63% of responses indicated at least a moderate value in terms of providing a competitive advantage and financial benefit, respectively. These results correspond with reported motivations for adopting the Standard.
In conclusion, the survey report indicates the following conceptual areas for focused attention within the ISO Working Groups responsible for the development of ISO 14001 and ISO 14004:
1. Consider strengthening attention to the concept of prevention of pollution: avoiding, reducing, and controlling waste and pollution in order to reduce adverse environmental impacts, in ISO 14001 requirements.
2. Consider strengthening attention to the concept of eco-efficiency: Implementing strategies for efficient use of resources, and for reducing waste and pollution, in ISO 14001 requirements.
3. Consider strengthening attention to the concept of life cycle thinking: identifying and evaluating environmental aspects related to the life cycle of products and services, in ISO 14001 requirements.
4. For other future challenge concepts, consider clarifying these concepts by offering clear information and guidance in ISO 14001 Annex A and ISO 14004, as appropriate. Where appropriate, requirements in ISO 14001 may also be clarified further by using clear and simple language, phrasing and sentence structure in the requirements text.
5. Consider expanding the content of ISO 14001 Annex A to offer more clear information and explanatory text in relation to the requirements in corresponding ISO 14001 clauses.
6. Consider expanding the content of ISO 14004 to provide additional examples and practical help on EMS implementation.
7. Consider opportunities for promoting and improving awareness of Annex A and use of ISO 14004.
The reports may be copied in part or in full, with the source quoted as ISO 14001 Continual Improvement Survey 2013, and reference to the SC1 web page. The reports can be found at http://bit.ly/1jdoooS